tv Focus on Europe PBS February 1, 2016 6:30pm-7:01pm PST
michelle: hello and welcome to "focus on europe," the program that brings you the stories behind the headlines and puts this fascinating continent in perspective. i'm michelle henery. thanks for joining us. on today's show -- terror in turkey, another extremist slips across borders. denmark tightening its borders -- a crisis for the united states of europe? and, a somalian refugee's cinderella story in germany. europe is in a state of alarm once again after a suicide bomber killed a group of tourists in istanbul last week. and like some of the terrorists who carried out last november's paris attacks, the bomber had registered as a syrian refugee.
this latest attack has fueled fears that is terrorists are using the migrant crisis to cross borders undetected. turkish newspapers have repeatedly warned of the presence of an i.s. terrorist cell, causing some to question just how effective the country's intelligence operations are. reporter: the hagia sophia -- a cathedral,then a mosque and now a museum. and nearby, another famous istanbul landmark, the blue mosque. this is istanbul at its most majestic. and it was here on sultanahmet square that a suicide bomber killed 10 tourists on january 12, allegedly sent by the is terror organisation. the streets and alleys around sultanahmet square , usually full of people, are now eerily quiet. the hotels are empty. mustafa ceyik runs a hostel right behind the blue mosque.
the attack left him shocked and sad -- but he is also angry with the turkish government. >> our intelligence services obviously failed. although you can't completely prevent such attacks. the victims were tourists, but i think the suicide bomber was out to harm turkey. so we were his target. reporter: journalist ezgi basaran says that represents a turn-around. she accuses the turkish government of having supported jihadist groups in syria. for years she has warned of the dangers of silently tolerating the i.s. >> turkey turned a blind eye to the activities of these groups. we found out that there was a taxi service for jihadis in the border town of kilis. it allowed fighters to cross into and out of syria freely.
reporter: president recep tayyip erdogan dismisses any such allegations. but his critics insist that he treats militant kurds as a greater enemy than i.s. terrorists. and conspiracy theories are making the rounds among his supporters. >> incidents like this are primarily aimed against muslim states. is there a fight against our faith? is the aim to turn us against each other? that calls for immediate investigation! reporter: ezgi basaran's criticism of ankara's stance towards i.s. lost her her job as editor in chief of a newspaper at the start of the year. the government does seem to have cracked down on i.s. and its supporters in turkey since the attack in istanbul.
dozens of suspected i.s. members and supporters have been arrested, although turkish journalists are unable to verify this independently. >> whether it is about the kurds or the i.s. in turkey, any criticism of the government results in an offensive againstd for allegedly supporting terrorists. >> it's very safe now. don't worry about it. reporter: mustafa ceyik tries to re-assure tourists concerned about the security situation. but despite his best efforts, dozens of guests have cancelled their bookings since the attack. >> last year wasn't easy for us, due to domestic tensions connected to the elections. now we can only hope things won't get even worse after the attack.
reporter: 12 million tourists visited istanbul in 2015. mustafa ceyik fears that figure will drop significantly this year. his government's leniency has made istanbul a target for is -- i.s. terror. michelle: i've lived in europe for almost 15 years and one of the things that i continue to find incredibly exciting is how you can drive freely from country to country in the same manner that you can drive from state to state in the us.this freedom of movement between european countries is called the schengen area, after the town in luxembourg where the agreement was signed. however, denmark has re-introduced passport checks, hoping to stem a massive influx of migrants. six other countries have also reintroduced border controls. this has raised the question of the schengen zone being in danger of collapse, and with it, one of the key achievements of modern europe. reporter: nicolas jähring needs
to leave earlier now that denmark has reinstated border controls. every day, he drives 10 kilometres to the danish border. jähring's commute to his workplace in denmark now takes longer. >> this is a special border region. the city of flensburg is comprised of some 30% danish residents. we've always worked well together and suddenly we've got border checks. they are hard for people living and working in this area and should be abolished again quickly. reporter: again, jähring's car is checked on his way to work. the border official doesn't want to be filmed. after a quick check, jähring is free to go. but many others this is the end of the road.
a bus is checked. this afghan family of eight wanted to travel through denmark to sweden. but the danish police won't let them continue their journey. now, they must decide, either they return to germany or apply for asylum in denmark. but the odds of being granted asylum here are slim. denmark has some of the strictest immigration policies in all of europe. and now passport checks have been introduced to stem the flow. the danish town of sønderborg lies just a few kilometers fom the german border. 700 syrian refugees live here in a former army barracks. ahmed khattap applied for asylumn six months ago. he and his fellow refugees know it is a long process. >> i don't think about my future if there are lot of many rules, every two month, three months new rules. how can i think about my future? i can not imagine my future how it will be. reporter: even if ahmed is
granted asylum, he will have to wait three years until his family can join him. danish right-wing populists have pushed through border checks and less money for refugees. >> we know that there are 300 refugees on the german border -- 300,000 refugees on the german border who haven't applied for asylum. they want to go to sweden. they'll need to cross denmark and they may want to stay here. so we control our borders. we can't take everyone in. reporter: sønderborg's mayor disagrees. he says his town has benefited culturally and economically from the open border. the social democrat sees border controls as a threat to his country. >> denmark will become poorer. we're a small country, we need to cooperate. we can't shut ourselves in and protect our prosperity.
reporter: many see a connection between the fate of the refugees and the future of europe. which is why nicolas jähring supports refugees in flensburg. the afghan who tried crossing into denmark this morning is here as well. he says his entire family is in sweden. he is sad that he is not able to join them. >> europe has to work together. but we're not doing that right now. border controls mean europe has failed. these are people who aren't allowed to join their families because they lack the necessary papers. reporter: a disagreement between neighboring states in europe. as denmark seals its borders, germany upholds the schengen agreement. nicolas jähring supports this. otherwise it wouldn't make sense for him to commute to work in denmark.
michelle: is this the end of a borderless europe? is this success story over? let us know what you think about that or any of today's stories by getting in touch on facebook, email or twitter. when i was a teenager, and dreamed of living in paris, i romanticized how my favorite authors sought exile in france. hemingway having cocktails on the left bank, baldwin writing in café de flore and miller, penniless but happy. from american authors seeking freedom of expression to russian artists fleeing the bolshevik revolution, france has had a long tradition of providing exile for the politically and socially persecuted. but for one human rights activist who fled there from her native russia, her exile is not one of glamorous parties and strolling leafy boulevards. accused of industrial espionage and fearing for her family's safety, she is trying to start a new life as one of many newly
arrived asylum seekers. reporter: cabbage and sausage. as often as she can, nadejda koutepova buys russian specialities to bring a taste of home into her new life in paris. she's been living in exile for six months now. the french authorities assigned her family a very small room, way out in the suburbs and 2 1/2 hours from the children's school. >> here there is only one room for four persons. of course we are grateful, because it's better than nothing. we have a bed. we have a heater. it's very difficult for us to be nice here. -- now here, because you know that in russia we had everything.
reporter: in russia, koutepova, who now enjoys international renown, was considered an enemy of the state. she never tired of reminding the world that thousands of people were exposed to massive radiation in a nuclear accident in 1957 -- long before the chernobyl disaster. the incident occurred when a container of nuclear waste exploded in a power station in maiak, where the soviets manufactured plutonium for nuclear bombs. the effects were mostly swept under the rug. but kutepova's family was directly affected. >> this is najda kodrova. this is my grandmother. she was mobilized by the communist party to build the nuclear plant in maiak. this is my father. he was 18 at a technical school. -- a student of technical school. he was mobilized by the
comsomols to liquidate the consequences of the nuclear accident of 1957 at maiak place. reporter: nadejda's grandmother and father died of cancer -- according to scientists, as a result of the accident. they weren't the only victims. in ozersk, the off limits city in the ural mountains near the maiak plant, cancer rates rose to extremely high levels. but no one was allowed to talk about it. reporter: after the dissolution of the soviet union, koutepova sought compensation for affected families. she also publicized the scandal in the international media. the russian authorities wanted to silence her. she was publicly accused of industrial espionage. the french office of the international league for human rights intervened and helped her leave russia. >> unfortunately, there are several cases in which people like nadejda koutepova have been physically attacked or even murdered for their work for human rights. and that's even more dangerous
in a closed city like ozersk, which is far away from moscow and the international media. reporter: but france's welcome was less than warm. koutepova was suddenly one among the increasing numbers of asylum seekers. she, too, had to wait for months to even get an official appointment. >> on some days, three, four, or five thousand people come to our offices. there's no way to manage that. we lack funds and the political will. that's just how it is. reporter: nadejda koutepova's life in a cheap, out-of-the-way hotel doesn't make her feel safe in france. the russian secret service has made life hard for many exiled critics of the government. koutepova is certain she's under surveillance.
>> recently one person wrote to me and i think that person works for the security system of russia. so now he tried to cooperate with me, exactly for the reason that they need information on what i plan to do. reporter: she doesn't feel welcome in france, but isn't willing to return to russia, where she would be under threat. >> people tell me that, nadejda, you should be happy because you left your nuclear hell and you are in paris. but you know that the circumstances were not so that i felt happy. of course i miss my urals, i miss my place, and sometimes at night i search in my dreams because it was not my choice. reporter: the european court of human rights in strasbourg has just ruled in her favor and condemned russia for refusing to compensate the maiak victims. koutepova remains a thorn in the
side of the russian state, even in exile. michelle: the german public is still reeling from reports that mobs of young men, most of them apparently migrants, sexually assaulted hundreds of women on new year's eve. the intense scrutiny of everything that went wrong that night, including a police cover up, has had repercussions -- which reached as far as sweden where details of similar sexual assaults also emerged. these attacks happened months ago at a music festival in stockholm. but the public is only hearing about it now in the wake of the german attacks. the swedish police admit to concealing the details. but why? sweden prides itself on being an open and tolerant society. but for police to reveal a suspect's ethnicity or nationality seems to be one of the country's last taboos. reporter: in summer, this part of central stockholm is home to an annual music festival. the event has recently been in the headlines due to revelations
of mass sexual assaults. sienna lansky was among those accosted last year, and who have decided to go public. >> suddenly we were surrounded by men touching us everywhere. it was really crowded, so you couldn't tell who was who and where they came from. we were surrounded, and were really scared. i think a lot of them were afghan men, but not only. there were many others too. reporter: she was among the thousands attending a free music festival hosted by the local -- municipal government called "we are stockholm". over 30 women have now reported being assaulted at last summer's event. the fact that many of the culprits were immigrants with arabic or asian roots doesn't
surprise the organizers. >> we get a lot of foreign men coming here. the question now is whether that is the reason a large proportion of those arrested -- and charged with sexual harrassment and other crimes were foreigners. well -- definitely, yes. the majority were foreigners. reporter: the police knew what had happened soon afterwards. they were also aware of the ethnic background of the suspects, and that the young men had gone to the festival in groups. but the police chose not to publicise that information. >> the police did not consider it important in this case. prosecutors may come to a different conclusion later, but it's not the police's job to address the ethnicity of suspects. now, six months later, we can say that it was relevant, but back then it wasn't up to us.
the police have had to admit, however, that there was an internal memo prohibiting the release of information about suspects' origins. reporter: were the police afraid of being accused of racism? or withholding important information? following a newspaper report, many are calling for a public debate. >> i would like to see a discussion, finally. we wanted one back in 2014, when we first saw these kinds of problems. all in all, it's a good idea. reporter: so why wasn't the problem addressed earlier? including attitudes among certain immigrants towards women and their place in modern society? some fear that sweden's much praised model of a mulicultural society could be stretched beyond its limits. even liberal politicians are finding it hard to hide their frustration.
those to profit most from the debate on the assaults, politically speaking, are the sweden democrats. even if no exact figures have been released on the numbers of immigrants among the culprits, the right wing party sees its populist slogans as verified. and for a party big on law and order, the alleged police cover-up makes things worse. >> the police have a duty to do better work -- to have people on the ground and inform the population what the actual situation is. we can't make any political decisions if we are not informed of the problems and the facts. reporter: security will be stepped up for this summer's "we are stockholm" festival in august. sienna lansky is determined to attend, and wants the young men
to realise what is, and what is not tolerable. >> i want them to understand that it's not just a bit of "oh, come on, stop it. i really mean it!" reporter: she and her friends want to have their fair share of festival fun, without having to worry about being harrassed -- by anyone. michelle: and now for a migrants story that has all the hallmarks of a fairytale. a somalian refugee who traveled from war ravaged mogadishu, all the way to germany, to a place that could be called the hamptons of germany. an island on the north sea, known for its picturesque coast, luxury properties and the celebrities who flock there every summer. while some might regard sylt as an exclusive playground for the rich, it turned out to be a sanctuary for the destitute somalian, one that has provided him with a job and for the very first time in his life, a home to call his own.
reporter: abdihakiin mohamed abdurahman's dangerous journey from somalia to sylt took eight years. he crossed the sahara, was locked up in lybian jails, and finally made it across the mediterranean. now he's found freedom in list in the far north of germany. reporter: abdurahman's life in a better world began in the locker room of fc united sylt. a soccer team that consists entirely of refugees. they have all experinced similar ordeals. after one of the matches, a volunteer helped abdurahman find a job. here, at the five-star arosa sylt hotel, this luxury spa has offered work to three refugees in all.
hotel manager gordon debus gives him a warm welcome. today, abdurahman will be signing his first ever employment contract. it's a first for the hotel manager, too. >> have a seat, we've prepared everything for you. reporter: this is the first time the 27-year-old has ever been employed. >> today is my special day. i'm so happy. because today is my first day i start my german job. i couldn't have guessed what i feel today. reporter: gordon debus is pleased as well. the hotel sector needs staff and refugees are welcome. >> i think the hotel business is ideal. it's such an international industry. it's been common for many years now to hire workers of all nationalities. reporter: now, abdurahman is a housekeeper. the proper work clothes make his transformation complete.
>> last night i did not sleep very well, because i keep the time all the -- when i wake up, i look the time, everytime. maybe 3 hours i am not asleep last night, because i am thinking about how i keep the time. reporter: what abdurahman lacks in experience he makes up for with hard work. after a week, abdurahman will clean without supervision. a simple room is supposed to take no longer than 30 minutes. for now, he's got to clean under the watchful eyes of a colleague and the deputy head of housekeeping. soon two more somalis will start working at the hotel. abdurahman has completed his first shift. but something's on his mind -- he misses his wife. >> she's illegal. she's working for a norwegian restaurant. and i miss her because i didn't
see her. because only i married her but only i did not see her at least nine years or ten years. and i miss her. reporter: if abdurahman is granted asylum he will receive proper papers. and would be able to legally visit his wife after all these years. the final step towards leading a normal life. michelle: well, that's it for today. thank you for watching. get in touch anytime with your thoughts and comments. in the meantime it's goodbye from me and the whole team. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]
welcome back to "newsline." it is tuesday february 2nd. i'm catherine kobayashi in tokyo. the world health organization said the outbreak of the zika virus is an extraordinary event. the agency placed the virus in the same category of concern as ebola. w.h.o. director margaret chan told reporters on monday that coordinated international action was needed. she said the goal is to improve detection, speed up work on a vaccine, and develop better diagnostics for the disease. she also advised pregnant women to avoid traveling to affected areas. the first cases of the mosquito-borne virus were confirmed in brazil last may. the w.h.o. has noted a